Change was afoot this year in Dallas-Fort Worth theater, from company openings and closings to staff shake-ups and even a union kerfuffle.Perhaps the most high-level change was the appointment of Martine Elyse Philippe as the new Director of the Office of Arts & Culture in Dallas, a role she assumed just two weeks ago. She replaces interim director Benjamin Espino, and will oversee partnerships and support with arts and cultural organizations.Also recently announced were the new plans for the Kalita Humphreys Theater, designed by New York-based Diller Scofidio + Renfro. Home to the Dallas Theater Center since 1959 — and several other groups since — the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed theater is in line for a complete interior restoration, development of surrounding green spaces, and the addition of a patio restaurant.Pocket Sandwich Theatre, which had been located on Mockingbird Lane for more than three decades, debuted its new space in downtown Carrollton just in time for the holidays.
Home to family-friendly melodramas and one-off cabarets and variety shows, Pocket Sandwich's new theater is eerily similar to its old home — but with upgraded restrooms, roomier seating, and an expanded menu.The Music Hall at Fair Park will also see some accessibility improvements in the near future, including mobile phone-enabled captions, a sensory overload room and enhanced training for staff and volunteers, a lactation room, and an ADA assistance desk.Guests at the Music Hall have also spent the last nine months memorizing Dallas Summer Musicals' new name: Broadway Dallas. "We changed our name from Dallas Summer Musicals to Broadway Dallas to accurately capture who we are and what we do," said Broadway Dallas president and CEO Ken Novice in March.Another new name to remember is The Table Co/lab, which debuted its inaugural season this year. A new play festival called Tales from the End of the Rainbow is scheduled for January at Arts Mission Oak Cliff to cap off their first year.Sadly, two Dallas theater companies closed the curtain for good in 2022.WingSpan Theatre Company was founded 25 years ago to stage seldom-produced plays for curious Dallas audiences, with a particular emphasis on works written by and about women.
Its last production was in 2019, and the official closure announcement came in June.Cry Havoc, which for the last eight years gave teens a voice with new devised works about social justice matters, announced in March that it would cease operations in September.The youth theater company Junior Players suffered a loss with the death of 95-year-old co-founder Jane Hook. Junior Players is the longest-running arts programming nonprofit in Dallas, and has been providing free, innovative arts education to North Texas youth since 1955.Speaking of youth theater, Fort Worth's Casa Mañanagot into some hot water with not one, but three unions over its production of Matilda the Musical. The show was originally programmed in the company's Children's Theater in 2020, but was billed as part of the Broadway series when it finally got to open in 2022 — without making the necessary changes mandated by the American Federation of Musicians, Actor's Equity, and the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society.Big changes are in store at Dallas Theater Center, where managing director Jeffrey Woodward said he's stepping down in April 2023.
In turn, artistic director Kevin Moriarty will become DTC's executive director, and a nationwide search is on to find his replacement.Dallas Children's Theater founder Robyn Flatt is also setting aside her title of executive director in 2023, once her replacement has been identified.Over at Shakespeare Dallas, which just celebrated its 50th anniversary season, artistic director Raphael Parry is no longer pulling double duty as executive director thanks to the hiring of Karen Raehpour, who assumed the role in November.Undermain Theatresaid farewell to two staff members, associate artistic director Danielle Georgiou and producing artistic associate Jake Nice, while Second Thought Theatre announced the departure of its director of operations, Drew Wall, who had been with the company for the past 15 years.And Fort Worth audiences finally got their shot at seeing the long-awaited national tour of Hamilton at Bass Hall, after waiting patiently through pandemic rescheduling. Now that's ending on a high note.